ALAN Pardew has his “iconic players” back for Newcastle – and they’re champing at the bit to face Wolves on Saturday, writes MILES STARFORTH.
Pardew welcomes back Yohan Cabaye from suspension and Cheik Tiote from the African Cup of Nations.
Cabaye has been banned for three fixtures, while fellow midfielder Tiote last featured in January 4’s win over Manchester United.
Newcastle were beaten 5-0 at Tottenham in their last outing, but a win over Wolves would lift them into fifth place and buoy them ahead of the Tyne-Wear derby on Sunday week.
“Now I have my strongest squad to pick from since Man United,” said Pardew.
“We’ve come through the period without our iconic players, with some fantastic results still.
“Fifth in the table with a win has got to be the objective. That’s what we will work on between now and Saturday.
“We’re still disappointed with the Tottenham result, and I’ve seen that on the training ground this week. By our own standards, we need to make sure that never happens again.
“More importantly, we have two home games. Our home form’s good – we’ve won our last three. Our home form’s strong.”
Tiote returned to training on Monday after a short break after the tournament, in which his Ivory Coast team were agonisingly beaten in the final by Zambia on penalties.
Pardew added: “Everybody’s fit. Cheik’s come back on the training ground and lifted everything.
“That’s because of the way he trains. One or two have felt his presence! That’s in a good way!”
The Wolves game will also see Papiss Demba Cisse – who marked his home debut against Aston Villa with a goal – start alongside Senegal team-mate Demba Ba.
“It’ll be a full home debut,” said Pardew.
“Our fans will be coming along to see how he performs, and I’m pretty sure he isn’t going to let them down. We’re all looking forward to it.”
Meanwhile, third-bottom Wolves could be without a manager, with the club yet to recruit a successor to the sacked Mick McCarthy.
However, there could be a manager-in-waiting in the stands, and Pardew is conscious that there is likely to be a reaction on the field to their last game, a 5-1 derby drubbing from West Brom.
“We come in against a team who haven’t got a manager in place,” he said. “We have to expect one may be on the sidelines on Saturday, and that would give an impact to Wolves.
“More importantly, regardless to what’s happening at Wolves, a win would leave us in fifth place.”